By Jacob King
These shocking images reveal how the scourge of plastic pollution is reaching new depths – with a tiny deep sea octopus pictured clinging to a plastic bottle cap.
Aussie Wayne Jones was blackwater diving in Batangas, in the Philippines, when he spotted the brilliant white of the lid with a Paper Nautilus attached while 26ft underwater.
Wayne, 53, from Albany, Western Australia, was stunned that even delicate deep sea marine life such as this mollusc – which usually lives deep underwater but had come up to feed – was not free from the terrifying global reality of the plastic flooding our oceans.
Married dad-of-three Wayne, who owns a diving and underwater photography business in the Philippines where he now lives, said: “This image was captured during a blackwater dive.
“It was the whiteness of the cap that grabbed my attention, but I soon realised what it was clinging to it as I approached.
“Seeing this Paper Nautilus attached to the bottle cap was, while frustrating, an opportunity to highlight the increasing problem of plastic waste making its way into the ocean.
“Plastic is impacting marine life, and ultimately all life, on an extremely harmful and global scale.
“The paper nautilus likes to attach itself to things for safety and to ambush food, but usually these are organic things like jellyfish and bamboo leaves.
“But the increasing amount of plastic trash ending up in the ocean means marine life are interacting with it more and more, as seen here.”
Wayne, who has been taking wildlife snaps for six years, shot the images earlier this year.
Paper Nautilus live in the pelagic zone, within the ocean’s water column, and do not venture all the way to the ocean floor or to the surface.
Blackwater divers, who diver over sea abysses, use underwater lights suspended in the water column to attract plankton and the larger species that feed upon them.
Wayne added: “Plastic pollution here is very bad – I believe the Philippines is ranked third globally for ocean polluting plastic waste.
“As a wildlife photographer, I want to photograph nature in a natural way.
“But this is becoming more and more difficult, because the diminishing wilderness is now becoming inundated with plastic.
“A photograph that enlightens this, even in as small a way as mine does, adds to the whole global picture of a planet in crisis.
“This is our home for life, and it is in need of care before it is too late.”